Welcome note

Katherina Reiche 

Parliamentary State Secretary

I am delighted that experts in habitat defragmentation from Europe and over-seas are meeting in Germany, and I would like to welcome you very cordially. At the IENE Conference 2012 you are dealing with a key chal- lenge to the protection and conservation of biological diversity – isola- tion of habitats through traffic routes.

The topic of the conference is of particular interest to Germany: Germany is a densely populated and highly industrialised country. It is located in the heart of Europe and has a very dense transport network with impor- tant trans-European routes. Roads have a barrier effect and thus consid- erable adverse impacts on the migration of animals and plants within and between habitats. In Germany, there are only few undissected areas left which are more than 100 square kilometres in size and have low traffic volumes. The fragmentation of habitats constitutes a major threat to biological diversity and poses great challenges in terms of transport infrastructure planning.

To avoid further fragmentation and to mitigate the effects of existing fragmentation the Federal Government adopted a “Federal Defrag- mentation Programme” in February 2012. The programme focuses on Germany‘s remaining free spaces for the migration of flora and fauna. So-called habitat corridors were developed in long-term research activi- ties commissioned by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.

The Federal Defragmentation Programme introduces the network of habitat corridors as a new planning instrument for Germany:

  • Habitat corridors will be the basis for future infrastructure planning.
  • Habitat corridors will be an aspect to be considered in Strategic Envi- ronmental Assessments.
  • Habitat corridors will have to be taken into account when defining the alignment of new traffic routes.

For existing federal transport infrastructure the programme identi- fies certain sections of trunk roads where the construction of green bridges to link habitat corridors is a priority.

Traffic routes do not end at borders. Neither does animal migration. This is why intensive international cooperation is a must. We need sound information on the most important questions, joint approaches and targeted arrange-ments and projects in transboundary cooperation. This conference provides ample opportunity for an intensive exchange of experience between experts in transport and nature conservation, between authorities, associations and the scientific community. I wish this event every success.

Katherina Reiche,
Parliamentary State Secretary

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